Operation Wallacea Conservation Research Expeditions for Schools

Video and Photos

About

Operation Wallacea is a research and environmental organisation, working with university and college academics to build long term datasets to put towards conservation management goals. We recruit school groups to help out with the data collection, and train them in the skills and background that's needed to help effectively. The project lets school students get involved and help out with true research in a number of very special and unique locations. We aspire to educate and inspire, with a lecture series and experience gained from over ten years of running school expeditions. By 2017 we'll be operating in fourteen different countries worldwide, each project unique in it's own way.

School groups participating get the full support of our experienced team, with everything from advice on how to fund-raise, to what to expect when joining us and how to prepare. Some of the projects are not for the faint of heart!

A 2 week expedition is $1,925 - but this excludes flights/transfers

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 72 reviews
  • Growth 9.3
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 31 - 45 of 72
Default avatar
Lauren
10/10

Most incredible experience of my life!

I went to a small island in indonesia called Byron Island for 2 weeks of adventure and laughter! It was such an amazing experience, I learned so much and got lots of practical experience too. One of my most memorable experience was on our last night in Bala Camp when we had a massive party in the evening, however it wasn't your standard 21st century party! We had a few lanterns to light up the "dance floor" we had a music system to blast out Ed Sheeran and One Direction, and we had some sticks and bottles... what more could you need? We ended up learning the Indonesian dance called "dangdut" and teaching the Indonesian people some of our dances! We also played games such as limbo, hoopla, running with a string and pencil tied to your and trying to get the pencil in a bottle(!) and the funniest game of musical statues ever! It was such a great atmosphere and the best party I have ever attended! Who would have thought that you wouldn't need mobile phones or lots of technology to have fun eh?

How can this program be improved?
I can honestly say I would be amazed if they found something that needed improving as it is already amazing! The food is great, I learnt so much and I made life long friends from all over the world that I'm still talking to today!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Gemma
10/10

Madagascar 2015

i went to Madagascar with OpWall in 2015 and had the most incredible two weeks. We spent one week looking at herps in the dry forest and one week looking at the nosy be coral reefs. I learnt so much and had a once in a life time experience. I would highly recommend these trips to anyone, whether for science or travel as you will be exposed to the best things that this world has to offer and meet incredible people.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Rachel
10/10

Best experience of my life

When an opportunity arose to participate (through Operation Wallacea) in a conservation project in the jungle and coral reefs of Madagascar, I seized at the chance to broaden my mind and to do something positive to help the planet. I visited beautiful locations, largely untouched by human development, and helped in project work designed to protect against threats of poaching, habitat loss and to safeguard biodiversity. The daily lectures furthered my understanding of the result of deforestation and bleaching of coral reefs. I had previously heard these terms in Geography and Biology lessons, but to see the consequences on the ground has inspired me to read for a degree which will enable me to make a difference in person. Even in such a remote and isolated destination, which took 40 hours travelling to reach, the local economy, which is predominantly based on agriculture, fishery and tourism, is affected by multinational companies such as Lays and Orange Telecom. These brands had a monopoly on the market and I didn't see any of their competitors. I want to understand better the factors affecting business success within national economies at differing stages of development. These major organisations also have an important role to play in the grassroots development of local communities through their environmental projects, such as Coca Cola's project to fund access to clean drinking water.

How can this program be improved?
It was such an amazing trip, that I don't know how it could be improved!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Hannah
10/10

A chance of a lifetime

My trip to Mexico in the summer of 2016 was the best thing I've ever done. I love every single second of it, even the unusual toilet situations in the jungle! Since I have returned I havw been asked multiple times which week I preferred and I honestly can't answer that question. Both weeks were so different and amazing. The terrestrial site was so peculiar and weird comeparwd to my life at home. We were so close and at one with the madness of nature and the buzz of creatures at night was amazing. I loved just laying in my tent listening to the crickets and monkeys as I woke up. The research we completed was eye opening and really interested me. Everyone at the camp was so friendly and the sense of community was very strong, they weren't just leaders to us, they became friends!
In the marine site, the accommodation was much more modern and it was nice being able to have a shower and flush a toilet. The food here was also incredible. It was nice being able to eat your dinner on the roof watching the Mexican sunset. The diving was amazing and eye opening. The biodiversity of the reef is breath taking and really does make you realise how important nature is. Akumal is known for the large amount of turtles that flock there. The turtles didn't fail to disappoint! I loved seeing the turtles and appreciating them in their natural habitats.
Overall, I would say operation Wallacea is an opportunity of a life time is well worth the oedfort of fundraising for. I would love to go back but at the moment I relish the momories passionately. I made loads of new friends, gained lots of knowledge and experience and became a more confident person.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing that could be improved is ensuring people got kept together in the dorms as our school of girls were split and mixed with people who we didn't know and made us slightly uncomfortable.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Lily
10/10

Amazing experience

The main thing I took out of the experience was the amazing sense of community there was with everyone. Especially when in the jungle, us students, teachers, scientists and the locals all got along as a family for the time we were there. The stories everyone shared were so interesting. Even more interaction with the locals would have been great. And overall just a longer expedition would be been great.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Skye
10/10

my once in a life time experiance

i was going through some personal things before the trip and one night i was having a bad time and one of the leaders there let me open up to them about it, and they opened up to me as well. it really helped me get through it and made my trip there amazing. all the staff were wonderful in the camp and im so glad they were there to share the experience with me. without the leaders and staff there in the first week, it wouldnt have been the same. they made it amazing and really taught you all they could, making sure you gained not only a personal, social lesson, but knowledge as well

How can this program be improved?
the staff in the second week (diving) seemed a little distant and werent as supportive as the first weeks staff
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Olivia
10/10

Greece Expedition 2016 - St Louis School

I must admit that I really did enjoy this trip as a whole. Although I returned to Milan with cuts and bruises, with an extreme need of good coffee and just food in general, and of course some proper clothes, Greece was a trip of a life time and I don't regret one last second of it. Not only did I make new friendships, strengthened ones I already had, witnessed animals I'd never even known existed and learned how to scuba dive (something I'd had on my bucket list for years) but I also learned how much our planet is in need and how desperately we need to start conserving it. I am very sad that I will not be able to participate in our school's trip to the Galapagos for another Operation Wallacea expedition but I will make sure to keep in contact with those who are and am even sending my GoPro so they will bring me back footage. Thank you again to all those who were working with us at the time of the Greek Expedition to both Samos and Lipsi (July 27th - August 10th), I really appreciate everything.

How can this program be improved?
I honestly don't know. One thing I suggest should be improved is the food because (for especially us Italians) it wasn't much to keep us motivated. That's really about it though!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Kira
10/10

Once in a life time experience

It was a very challenging 3 weeks but the beauty of the areas in Indonesia that we got to experience where full of life and where beautiful and truly something worth supporting and helping to protect. The week that we spent in the Rainforest was very naturalistic with all the necessities allowing us to using the river to bath and having very limited contact to the outside world allowing us to full indulge ourselves in the surroundings and the activities that we were offered which included canopy access, several surveys and lectures. The remoteness of the camp really gave us the chance to stay concentrated on the volunteering and allowed us to get to know the scientists and guides very well, they were all very interesting, encouraging and passionate about there areas that they were there researching and it was very nice to see what amazing work they had done around the world. I think it is very much worth the money that we spent on the trip as the research that we were doing was going towards the fund which was allowing people to collect data and study there certain species which was working towards getting the area added to the REDD+ areas which helps to protect it further from degradation. The week in on Hoga island was magical as it was in the middle of nowhere which was really exciting. We spent the week doing a reef ecology course learning about all there different marine sites and the marine life they have in the area as well as human impacts on the reef. The diving was phenomenal from massive shawls of fish to amazing nudibranchs and sea kraits which we also had lectures on to allow us to understand more about what we were seeing which was really useful as i found it lovely to know what i was looking at and understand what they do. Overall it was one of the most amazing trips i have ever been on and hope to work with them soon again.

How can this program be improved?
I think it was all perfect apart from the few encounters we had with nuts. Although not a personal problem a close friend was seriously allergic to nuts and you didn't really take it into account even though you had promised not to serve nuts.
Yes, I recommend this program
Raffi
10/10

Peruvian Amazon 2016

This trip has been easily the most unique trip I have ever been on in my whole entire life. I have travelled all across Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of Central and South America; but all those countries pale in comparioson to the biodiveristy that is in the Peruvian Amazon.

Being a 18 year old high-school student, I was only expecting to be allowed to observe. However, we were given an extensive hands on experience with everything we did. We were allowed to hold birds and caymans that the group caught, we were allowed to measure biometrics on everything that we did, and we were even allowed to enter in data. All that shows that OpWall really wants to immerse you in the world of environmental research no matter your age or expereince.

How can this program be improved?
The talks in the beginning of the trip, though interesting, were very monotonous, and could be shortened down a little bit. Also, the food have a little more variaty: rice everyday started to bother my stomach.
Yes, I recommend this program
Hannah
9/10

Experience of a lifetime

I have been on a total of 3 expeditions with Operation Wallacea, each one completely different from the next. On each trip I usually spent one week inland within a forest or jungle environment, and one week along the coast or on an island.

In 2012 I spent 2 weeks in Honduras where I learned how I could physically help the living planet by participating in field research. By learning to scuba dive, I discovered a whole new world within the marine ecosystems that allowed me to develop a love and understanding for the importance and necessity of these environments. I experienced life in a remote part of the world and realized the passion I have for the world around me. After Honduras, I completely changed what I wanted to do with my life and career by entering college and pursuing a degree in Environmental Science.

2 years later I was back in the field, but this time in Ecuador. Here, the accommodations were much less harsh, which had its benefits, but I found myself missing the rough and tumble of Honduras. The loo with a view and the changing menus for each meal practically felt like vacation, so I wasn't complaining. The differences between the two trips were vast, but one was not necessarily better than the other, just different. I still had the opportunity for a vast amount of field work and the ability to dip my toes into various projects and studies, including bat/ humming bird surveys and carbon sequestration surveys for the REDD+ program. The ability to visit the Galapagos Islands was also something I will never forget. We attended lectures taught by a Chilean professor and delved into concepts specific towards the island (Giant tortoises, Darwins' finches, plant adaptations etc.) I learned so much and this trip as it was an experience unlike any other.

Last summer I went on my last expedition with Operation Wallacea to the beautiful country of Greece. I had never been to Europe before, so this was an experience in itself. Already equipped with my scuba certification, I was able to assist in underwater seagrass research and fish diversity studies. Catering towards the marine ecosystems, this trip provided me with the experience I desired for my fisheries and aquatic science minor at school. In the video link provided, you will be able to see clips from my time spent in Athens, as well as the time I spent in the water and on the islands right off the coast of Greece. Things not shown in the video included the chameleon surveys and a large amount time we spent surveying a cove for the eventual site for captive dolphin releases. Working with the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation was a pleasure as it provided me within insight for how international environmental groups work within their governments to protect their environments and increase awareness about issues pertaining to their local ecosystems.

Overall, I would recommend going on one of the trips through Operation Wallacea. My world view has expanded ten fold since I first went to Honduras and I have a greater appreciation for the environment and the potential place I have in it. I believe everyone should experience something like this, even if to just gain a perspective other than that of an American or British mindset. My life certainly changed for the better as I discovered my passion and set the direction of the life on course to make the environment a better place for the future.

How can this program be improved?
I have heard that the staff usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to provisions and pay. I am not sure about the validity of this, but if they were to improve anything then, I would say this would be it.

Also, the communications between my group and the people organizing American groups through Opwall were lacking. They did not provide very much information for the leader of my group, leaving him to research and choose certain things on the trip that he knew nothing about: transportation, hotels etc. Some guidance and information would have been nice, but they were very hard to communicate with.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Oliver
10/10

Midnight Lemurs

A night time lemur survey was one of the most incredible experiences in my life. Seeing this early incredible animals in their natural habitat when many of them are naturally active. Although the trip was incredibly tiring, it was very rewarding, although how we were expected to get up early the next morning for an early survey I will never know! Having only seen quite common lemurs such as the Coquerrels Sifaka and Common Brown Lemur, being able to see a wider variety of lemurs was quite rewarding, even though the trail we took was a real killer. Even so, the guides were incredibly friendly and very informative, and we learnt a lot about Madagascar as a country as well as an environmental haven

How can this program be improved?
Wouldn't mind some Nutella with my donuts in the morning. Would have loved to stay longer and see even more!
Yes, I recommend this program
Beth
9/10

Madagascar 2016

In summer 2016 I went to Madagascar as a trip with school, it was a lot of money so I wasn't sure on it at first but I'm definitely glad I went and would 100% do it again. We stayed at two different forest camps over one week and a camp by the sea for a further week. The country was very beautiful and exciting as I'd never seen anywhere like it before. The camps were very nice as when we arrived all our tents were set up for us. We saw a huge array of animals that I would never be able to see anywhere else which made this trip even more special. We also had lectures which were interesting and taught us a lot about what we were doing. We visited the town which was fascinating seeing how the people live and seeing their culture.
I had an experience of a life time and would love to go back again some day.

How can this program be improved?
The food was very basic so it could have been improved just by having opptional sauces and the toilet and shower facilities weren't particularly nice so maybe just small changes on them.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Eleanor
10/10

The most amazing experience

This was honestly a unique and wonderful experience - the best two weeks of my life! You won't get this opportunity again! Whilst in South Africa I had the chance to watch a wild leopard walk past during dinner, and float in a reef watching sharks swim around me. Before the trip I was't used to the environment we stayed in, but it really helped me to experience living in a way i never had before! The staff were amazing and made us all feel safe and included. I would really like to work somewhere like this in the future! I would recommend this to anyone - it may be expensive but its worth the price!

How can this program be improved?
No improvements!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Gavin
9/10

Next Level Biology

As a Biology teacher, it's my job to share my passion for the living world in a way that makes my students want to infect others with the same enthusiasm. With Operation Wallacea, they had the opportunity to explore the natural world guided by an inspiring group of experts that took their skills, knowledge and passion for Biology to the next level. From learning how to dive, to surveying chameleon, jackal, fish and invertebrate populations, the trip encompassed all of the fantastically exciting and engaging practical aspects of Ecology that just can't be offered within the classroom. Six months on and the excitement hasn't faded!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Laura
10/10

Go to Dominica for an AMAZING experience!

We arrived late due to weather issues leaving Puerto Rico. However, Charlotte and her team made sure that we still experienced all the studies. We also got to do both the canyoning and vulcanology even though originally you had to choose between the two.

All the scientists were very professional but also open to sitting around with the students and talking about career paths and general interests.

The country is beautiful and the people are so welcoming. You really feel like you are making a difference!

Yes, I recommend this program

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

Meet the Staff

About Operation Wallacea

Operation Wallacea is a network of academics from European and North American universities, who design and implement biodiversity and conservation management research programmes. Research is supported by students who join the programme, to strengthen...